Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vegetarian Banh Mi with Tofu (Vietnamese sandwich)

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich which came about with the French colonialism in Vietnam. The French baguette with pate combined with local ingredients like cold cuts and pickled vegetables makes a classic Banh Mi.

In Vietnam, a vegetarian Banh Mi is not very common - this is my take on this traditional Vietnamese sandwich. Instead of meat, I use marinated and baked spicy tofu. I add avocado for some bulk as well as creaminess and top it off with the traditional pickled vegetables.

Bread forms an important part of the sandwich – hence it is critical that you use fresh bread. A baguette with a thin crisp crust and a light chewy interior is a good fit. Artisanal baguettes are great for other applications but not perfect for this sandwich since they have a very thick crust. 


Vegetarian Banh Mi with Tofu

Banh Mi fillings

3 6" French baguette pieces
1 large organic carrot, peeled and cut into julienne (thin matchsticks)
3 inch long piece of daikon, peeled and cut into julienne (thin matchsticks)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons warm water
1 small avocado
1 Persian cucumber
12 oz lite firm tofu baked [Click on the link for recipe]
One lime, cut into wedges
Light Mayonnaise
Chili garlic sauce
Cilantro leaves [optional] 

  1. Mix ½ teaspoon kosher salt with rice vinegar, sugar and warm water in a bowl and marinate the carrot, daikon and onions for an hour. You can adjust the marinade ingredients based on your preference i.e. if you like things sour, then increase the vinegar or use a sharper vinegar like white vinegar or red wine vinegar or reduce the sugar. It is a very flexible marinade. If you are in a hurry then just massage the onion, carrots and daikon with a little sugar and salt to soften them and drain out the liquid before using.
  2. Remove the pit from the avocado and slice it into thin slices. Squeeze some lime juice over the avocado to prevent it from browning or cut it as the last minute.
  3. Peel the cucumber and slice it into long thin slices.
  4. Slice the baked tofu into ¼ inch thick slices.
  5. To assemble the sandwich, split open the baguette pieces and spread mayonnaise on both sides. If you like your sandwich spicy, add some chili garlic sauce as well. Then lay down some slices of cucumber on the bottom half the baguette, followed by the pickled vegetables (without the marinade), a few slices of avocado, a little lime juice and finally the tofu slices. If you like cilantro, top the sandwich with the cilantro. Close the sandwich and enjoy!
Serves 3

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